Whitmarsh: McLaren must not obsess over reliability 11 Mar 2013
On the eve of the new Formula One season, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has warned that his squad must not become obsessed with the pursuit of reliability at the expense of developing their new car, the MP4-28.
The cars predecessor, the MP4-27, was competitive throughout 2012 but a lack of reliability caused the teams championship challenge to fade towards the end of the season. However, despite bouncing back to win the final two races of the year, McLaren opted to overhaul their car for 2013; a decision Whitmarsh believes will pay dividends.
Clearly weve taken some risks in changing the car from last year, he said in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. We finished the 2012 season with undoubtedly the quickest car and it would have been very easy to have continued to develop that car - wed have made it quicker still for the start of this year.
Yet weve made a lot of changes to the overall package and weve done so in the belief that you have to be competitive over 19 races, and youve got to be able to develop it. Weve given ourselves a platform that is new to ensure weve got a development opportunity over the course of the season.
Whitmarsh admitted that McLarens aggressive approach to car development would always carry certain risks, but that hes prepared to accept them in the pursuit of the teams first world title since 2008.
"You can never be as confident as you'd like to be with a new car," he said. "If it's stable and reliable, typically you want to push it further, make it quicker, lighter and more aerodynamic.
"We've been working hard with (engine supplier) Mercedes-Benz on some of the issues we saw last year, and we've been working internally as well.
"We are constantly vigilant but we must not become so obsessed by the pursuit of reliability that we don't change the car to improve it."
McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez showed impressive pace in pre-season testing, although Whitmarsh said that the cool conditions - and the subsequent increase in tyre degradation - made it very difficult to judge the teams ultimate performance.
On the last day Jenson did a very good long run, so you can start to convince yourself that youre managing it (tyre degradation) better than others, he said. But the truth is that conditions during testing are very different.
We believe that the new Pirelli tyres will be more challenging than those weve had recently in terms of their ability to grain and to wear. High degradation is inarguably good for the show, but is obviously a big headache for those of us who are trying to race and win. Its an interesting challenge but its the same for everyone.
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